Big Sabine Campsite, Santa Rosa Island, Florida – January 6, 2013
I feel like an old machine groaning back to life. Gears grind against each other. Cracked rubber belts pull tight. Metal screams against metal. The whole thing shakes, threatens to rattle apart.
Familiar movements feel disconnected. The boat feels heavy, the paddle awkward in my hands. I notice each joint–wrist, elbow, shoulder, spine–fighting for smoothness, trying for grace, not quite connecting.
The water feels dead underneath me. The wind is a fixture and not something alive. I look up and see clouds sliding overhead that I haven’t watched build from a clear blue sky or seen eat away stars in the night. They are strangers, just words written on a weather report and made real without explanation.
Pensacola Beach comes slow. The Ferris Wheel and hotel towers seem stuck ahead, beside, then behind me. I stare at them, growing bitter, watching daylight disappear into the night, feeling rusted and alone like the Tin Man without oil.
But I got heart. I still got heart.